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How can you peacefully co-parent with a narcissist?

As is typical in divorce, perhaps you can no longer stand being around your former spouse. Maybe you have grown tired of your ex’s arrogance and disrespect. Or, possibly you recognize you made a mistake choosing him or her in the first place.

Marriages end for a wide variety of reasons. Many couples are not able to pinpoint exactly why their relationship did not last. However, if you were married to a narcissist, there might be some things you will still want to consider once your divorce is final. This may be especially true when there are kids involved.

3 steps you can take to raise healthy children

As you negotiate your custody and parenting time arrangements, you probably want transfers between homes to go as smoothly as possible. Keeping your children’s mental health in mind, you likely do not want to speak negatively to them about their other parent. But considering your ex’s focus on him or herself, you might not know how to raise your children with them.

Some paradigm shifts which could be helpful for sharing parenting time with a narcissist include:

  • Learn about Oregon’s divorce and child custody laws – As your children get older, they may want to make choices about how their time is divided between their parents. Depending on the circumstances involved in your case, you may choose to advocate to modify the terms of your parenting time agreement at some point after your divorce is final.
  • Accept your ex for who they are – This is not to say you are expected to be happy with, or even pretend to approve of, your former partner. However, your continual disappointment in who they are, what they do and how they think is not helpful to anyone involved – including yourself. Rather than focusing on what should have been, or how you want things to be, strive to support the needs of your children as they relate to your ex. 
  • Establish boundaries – Setting, and sticking to, boundaries for yourself can help you maintain a semblance of peace while dealing with a difficult personality. Plus, setting this example for your children may help them learn to form healthy relationships for themselves, as you teach them to determine what they should, and should not, be willing to accept from others.

Understand that changing your mindset and behavior takes time – be willing to forgive yourself when you do not parent the way you would like to. Although your children might have one parent who is emotionally inaccessible, your growth and transparency may provide exactly what they need.

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